Do You Use e.g. and i.e. Interchangeably?

The abbreviation e.g. is short for exempli gratia in Latin and is used to mean for example.

How to Use e.g.

Use e.g. to list examples of one or more things, like this: I eat fruit for breakfast every morning (e.g., bananas, pears, figs).

In the above example, I list types of fruit I might have for breakfast, but it’s not an exhaustive list — I might eat other fruits not listed here. ⁣

TIP: Never use both e.g. and etc. in a list — it’s redundant. Pick one or the other.

How to Use i.e.

The abbreviation i.e. is short for id est in Latin and is used to mean that is.

Use i.e. with a clarifying statement, like this: Brake/break and weather/whether are homophones (i.e., pairs of words that sound the same but have different meanings).

The part after i.e. in this example clarifies what a homophone is. It’s one specific thing, not one example of several possible things.

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

A Simple Trick to Remember the Difference

Here’s my favorite way to remember the difference between e.g. and i.e.:

e.g. = example given

i.e. = in other words

Write the Rule Down

Because e.g. and i.e. are often mistakenly used interchangeably, it’s a good idea to include guidance for how to use them in your writing style guide.